Concept Systems

Concept Systems Deploys a Modern Controls Solution for a Modern Materials Maker

When it came time for a large, northwestern U.S. timber manufacturer to choose a controls solution for a new facility, they reached out to their partners at Concept Systems. The new facility would be creating products for a growing industry—multi-story, timber-built structures.

Most of us think concrete and steel when we envision how taller buildings are designed and erected. However, modern engineered timber products have many advantages over their concrete and steel counterparts. Faster time to completion and more environmentally sustainable raw materials are just a few. These modern beams also respond better in a fire as they don’t buckle under the heat and burn very slow, allowing building occupants more time to safely exit if a fire event were to occur.

Concept Systems had several goals they needed to achieve in order to create the kind of facility their customer was seeking. Modern and flexible were two things the customer really wanted. “The modern look and feel cannot be overlooked here. Many people expect this from a control system without knowing what they are asking for,” stated Concept System’s Sam Cafferata.

Sam and his team, along with professionals from Rockwell Automation and their partner network, consulted with the customer to provide the robust, modern solution they were seeking. While the final solution had many components, ThinManager was chosen for centralized device management and content delivery. Its rich feature set allowed for many of the customer’s requests to be checked off the list with a single solution.

Centralization is the key to understanding the real value of thin client deployments. This modern approach to device management and content delivery is what makes ThinManager a valuable solution. Once a customer consolidates their industrial applications to a server-based architecture, the challenge is then how to redeploy all of the content that is now centralized.

Operating systems and industrial applications are already installed on servers therefore, the end user terminals don’t need to be traditional PCs. The extra maintenance and security that traditional PCs would require now logically leads to using “thin” technology for end user devices. Thin client devices essentially borrow the OS and the needed applications from the servers while they are operating. They store no data and require no maintenance.

ThinManager’s job is to make and manage the connection between the centralized content and the devices and users that need to receive that content. This is why Concept Systems chose it for this project. “It’s a different mindset, but quite intuitive and flexible,” stated Cafferata. “Everything lives here, not in the field. It’s a modern mindset.” 

Cafferata went on to explain that his customer was surprised at how easy ThinManager was to deploy. “The flexibility for configuring both fixed stations and mobile tablets was impressive. Even more so, the new solution allowed IT to own the server.” 

This kind of flexibility helps to bridge the gap between OT and IT. ThinManager gives OT staff the tools they need to properly deploy and manage production while letting IT stay on top of security. 

“The flexibility with credential control for fixed and mobile assets was one of the most important features of the implementation,” Cafferata continued. “The customer also appreciated that ThinManager is non-platform specific and can help manage most other Windows-based third-party applications they use as well. This makes the installation more adaptable and future proof.” 

Finally, we asked Sam if he would recommend ThinManager for future projects? “Yes, of course,” Cafferata stated. “Any chance I get. From an integrator’s perspective there is a lot to gain. Just the central server management is enough to justify. Everything else is icing on the cake.” 

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Tom Jordan

Marketing Lead for ThinManager - A Rockwell Automation Technology